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Fields, Forests & Wetlands Foods of Eastern North America

A Complete Wild Food Guide

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Season: Spring & Summer

Urban, Rural or Both: Both


Mustard Black

Young Black Mustard.


White Mustard (Sinapis alba). I can't speak for other than Southern Ontario, but if most of the East is like here, you will never have a problem finding this plant. This plant has a long held reputation in Europe as being very healthy to eat.

Do not mistake this for the Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata) which I do not recommend for eating either the seeds or greens, though it is a traditional spice and green in Europe. See here for more on why. The seed pods look very similar in both the White and Garlic Mustard. Garlic Mustard has white flowers, and the leaves are smaller and more diamond shaped.

The greens picked when young in the spring make a nice addition to most anything you would use greens in. They go very well in stir fry's. They are both a green and spice, as the taste has some zing to it, but not too much. Some chopped up and added to soups is very good.


Growing this plant in your home garden:

Easy, gather some seeds from a plant you find, scatter where you want them in the spring and lightly rake. Make sure it is full sun and rich soil, and sit back and wait. They don't like really wet soil, and you will get more if you have manure in the soil or fertilize after the have come up about 15 cm (6 inches). They love nitrogen and respond well to it.

For detailed growing instructions, go to my Wild Foods Home Garden website Mustard page.


Description:

White Mustard (Sinapis alba) range. Distribution map courtesy of U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA Natural Resources Service) and used in accordance with their policies.


Black Mustard (Brassica nigra).

Do not mistake this for the Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata) which I do not recommend for eating either the seeds or greens, though it is a traditional spice and green in Europe. See here for more on why. The seed pods look very similar. Garlic Mustard has white flowers, and the leaves are smaller and more diamond shaped.

The greens picked when young in the spring make a spicy addition to most anything you would use greens in. They go very well in stir fry's and most other meals, but due to how strong they are, only use a little and only use the greens in the spring when they are young. Small amounts chopped up and added to a lasagne is very good. Small amounts in soups works very well as a spice.


Growing this plant in your home garden:

Scatter seeds where you want them in the spring and lightly rake. Make sure it is full sun and rich soil. They don't like really wet soil, and you will get more if you have manure in the soil or fertilize after the have come up about 15 cm (6 inches). They love nitrogen and respond well to it.

For detailed growing instructions, go to my Wild Foods Home Garden website Mustard page.


Description:

Black Mustard (Brassica nigra) range. Distribution map courtesy of U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA Natural Resources Service) and used in accordance with their policies.

Black Mustard Plant

Typical Black Mustard in flower. (Jennifer Anderson, hosted by the USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database)


Black Mustard sketch

The Black Mustard plant. (USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913. An illustrated flora of the northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 vols. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York. Vol. 2: 193)


Field mustard (Sinapis arvensis). Known also as Wild Mustard and Charlock. Though it can be used for the greens in the spring, I find I prefer the taste of the White Mustard greens, and I never have a problem finding them.

Field mustard (Sinapis arvensis) range. Distribution map courtesy of U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA Natural Resources Service) and used in accordance with their policies.





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Important Notes when Identifying
Rules & Cautions
Dangerous Plants to Avoid Touching
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